Neither of the two young Sporting Kansas City players is surprised that Orlando City have been named as MLS' latest expansion team, and the two told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday that they don't see a long transition period from USL PRO to the top tier.
“When I first went on loan, all I heard about USL were a few things from some different people – that it was nothing like MLS,” said Dwyer, who scored a league-record 15 regular-season goals for Orlando and netted four times in a one-time return for the USL PRO title game.
“Orlando was just like MLS. They just didn't have a stadium. But they were leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else, from the facilities to the coaches to the professionalism. The staff they have working, the ownership, everything is ready and in place. It's a top-quality organization, and I'm excited for them because they deserve it.”
Kempin, who has played both for and against the Lions – earning a 3-2 victory against them in US Open Cup play in 2012 and making nine appearances in goal for Orlando City this year – also praised the club's operations.
“Soccer-wise, skill-wise, I think the team's been pretty good for the last couple of years,” he said. “They definitely know what they're doing. They've got good experience all the way from the owners to the coaches, even their ticketing staff. You saw in the championship final how hard they worked and what they were able to do in such a limited amount of time.”
There were 20,886 on hand at the Citrus Bowl for Orlando City's wild 7-4 victory over Charlotte in that Sept. 7 title match – but Orlando City's fans had already proven their passionat support well before that point, Dwyer said.
“They are out there every game, whatever the weather, whether it's pouring down rain or beaming with sunshine,” Dwyer said. “There were games when we had three-hour rain delays, and they were still out there in the rain. They're loyal supporters, and I'm really pleased for them. They really deserve it, and they're going to have a great time.”
Manager Adrian Heath and his staff also earned praise from both players, who said he would be a good fit in MLS.
“He's spot-on. He knows what he's talking about,” Dwyer said. “He could coach anywhere in the world. He's a smart guy, well-respected. He had a fantastic playing career. He's a legend in England. Obviously, he's a big, big name. He knows the game. He's someone you can look up to as a role model.”
And after two years of success against MLS clubs in Open Cup play – including a 1-0 win over Sporting in this year's tournament, even without any of their four loanees from Kansas City – Kempin wouldn't be surprised to see several of the Lions' players make the move up, too.
“I'm happy for them, with getting so close to some of the guys on the team and the coaches,” he said. “They've worked really hard for it, and they deserve it. I think they've kept a core group of guys, and I think they can play in MLS. You've seen it in Open Cup and some of these friendlies.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.